Trying Out Chrome Extension Development

After being somewhat frustrated with a web app I was having to repeatedly check, I decided to try my hand at writing a Chrome web browser extension. I basically just wanted to have a little notification pop-up when the web page told me a certain event was occurring, that way I wouldn’t have to keep checking it. After tinkering with one of Chrome’s sample extensions, my page checker/notifier was up and running perfectly. I had expected its development to be kind of painful, but it luckily wasn’t painful at all.

Typing Speed Monitor

After its creation I decided to explore extensions a little more. I had a few ideas in mind and figured I’d implement one to see what I could do. I decided to first go with creating a “Typing Speed Monitor”, something that would capture what an average user’s typing speed was, tell them how much time they spent typing, give them statistics about what they typed, and give them a visualization to play around with. It was a pretty simple idea, but it involved messing around many of the areas of extension development and I think it came out well, so I think it was a good first project (not counting the project I created out of an example). If you’re interested, you can download it from the Chrome Extension Gallery here.

I’ve also uploaded the source to the extension to and you can check that out here. Since this is a pretty basic extension, nothing too complicated is going on, but I figured I’d post it up in case anyone was curious as to what was going on underneath the covers. I have a few more ideas for additional features, but I’ll first see if anyone actually uses the thing. Also, I’d be interested in making this app more internationalized, but I’m not completely certain on how the JavaScript keycodes work for foreign keyboards. If anyone has any information on this please let me know.

On a related note, later this year Google will unveil the Chrome Web Store, which actually sounds kind of promising. It’ll feature web applications, Chrome themes, and Chrome Extensions (the extensions will be moved from the gallery to the store). The store will feature free applications along with ones users can pay for. I really like the idea of a repository for web apps, and it seems like it’ll give developers a good outlet for their ideas. Anyway, it’s something to keep an eye on.

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